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Cybersecurity 101: What you need to know to stay safe online

Have you ever had the “talk?” You know the one, where you discuss staying safe and protecting yourself on the internet?

If not, it’s time to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge that will help prevent you from becoming a victim of cybercrime.

Although no amount of lecturing or preparation can guarantee 100% safety when using your computer, it gives you a fighting chance against cybercriminals. If you don’t think you have anything to worry about or this discussion is not relevant to your situation, consider the following 2017 figures:

Of course, these few statistics don’t cover cybercrimes that target businesses, organizations, or governments. However, these numbers indicate the impact cybercrime can have on you as an individual, and in turn, society as a whole.

To help better protect you and your data from falling victim, Kim wants to help you stay safe online by sharing commonly used terms in cybersecurity. Before we get to the glossary, we must define our topic.


The processes employed to safeguard and protect one against criminals or unauthorized use of electronic data or the measures taken to achieve this. (Oxford Dictionaries)

With that, let’s dive into the threats you need to be aware of that are lurking online along with defenses against them. Please note, this list is not exhaustive.

Staying protected in a dangerous digital world


Software designed to automatically display or download advertising material that redirects the user to the advertiser’s website and collects marketing data or tracks the user’s online activity such as browsing history.

Anti-virus software

Software that runs in the background on your computer to detect, prevent and remove viruses and other malware from a computer system.


A method of confirming a user’s identity typically accomplished by username/password, or biometrics.


Cloud computing

A system that uses shared resources to store and access information and data over the internet instead of your personal computer.


Any attempt to gain illegal access to a computer, network or computer information system.

Data breach

An incident in which sensitive, protected or confidential data is illegally viewed, accessed, or retrieved.


Process of reverting encrypted text into its original version so a computer can read and understand it.

End-to-end encryption

The process of encrypting data as it passes through a network while keeping routing information visible.


Software or hardware designed to filter network traffic preventing hackers, viruses, and other malware from intruding into a computer or network.


An unauthorized user, often an expert computer programmer, who attempts or gains access to a computer or network.


Text highlighted by color or underlining that points to a website, a different document or specific part within the current document. It requires the user to click on the text to follow the related data or information.

IP address

A numerical marker, or string of characters, assigned to every device using internet protocol or other protocol to communicate over a network.

IP spoofing

A hijacking technique in which a user supplies a false IP address to gain unauthorized access to a computer system.


Software or hardware used to secretly track the keystrokes or keyboard activity of an information system user.

Malware (malicious software)

A computer program designed to breach or cause harm to a computer system. Types include a virus, worm, ransomware, adware, and Trojan horse, among others.

Open Wi-Fi

An unsecured connection(network) that is available, or open for public use.


A piece of software used to update, fix, or improve a computer program or application.


A fraudulent practice of posing as a reputable person or company in an email, telephone call, or text message in the attempt to gain confidential information such as passwords or credit card numbers.


Malicious software that can block access to a computer system or encrypt a victim’s files until a ransom is paid.


Malicious software secretly installed on an information system that monitors and reports user activities to attackers, whose goal is to cause victim harm by collecting data on him or her. Note: Spyware is often used to gather information about users for data firms and advertisers.

Trojan Horse

A software program disguised as authentic programs that can infect your information system or alter files or data.


Malicious software that inserts itself into a computer system and is capable of duplicating, causing interference and destruction to a computer’s functioning.


A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows users to send and receive data via a safe and encrypted connection across a public network or internet.

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Malicious software that replicates and spreads throughout an information system causing damage by consuming the system’s resources. It can be used to deposit other malware on a computer system.


Zero-day is just a fancy way of describing exploits that are discovered and abused by hackers before the software company has time to issue a patch.

Aren’t you glad we had this talk? Gaining knowledge on how to stay secure online is the first step to safeguarding you and your data from cybercriminals. If you would like additional cybersecurity tips, resources, and information, visit the Komando website.

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